In his classical book “the Foundations of Statistics” Savage creates a formal system of rational decision making. It is based on (i) a collection of feasible states of the people, (ii) a set of results, (iii) a collection of acts, which are functions from says to aftermath, and also (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmicountry of the enterpclimb is a depiction theorem: any type of choice relation that satisfies certain arguably acceptable postulates determines a (finitely additive) probability circulation over the states and a utility assignment to the aftermath, such that the preferences among acts are determined by their intended utilities. Further problematic presumptions are however forced in Savage’s proofs. First, tbelow is a Boolean algebra of occasions (sets of states) which determines the richness of the set of acts. The probabilities are assigned to members of this algebra. Savage’s proof requires that this be a (sigma )-algebra (i.e., closed under infinite countable unions and also intersections), which provides for an extremely well-off choice relation. On Savage’s see we should not require subjective probabilities to be (sigma )-additive. He therefore finds the insistence on a (sigma )-algebra strange and also is unhappy via it. But he sees no method of avoiding it. 2nd, the assignment of utilities needs the continuous act assumption: for every consequence there is a constant act, which produces that consequence in eexceptionally state. This presumption is known to be extremely counterintuitive. The current work-related contains 2 mathematical results. The first, and the more tough one, reflects that the (sigma )-algebra presumption have the right to be dropped. The second states that, as lengthy as utilities are assigned to finite gambles just, the constant act assumption have the right to be reput by the more plausible and also a lot weaker presumption that tright here are at least 2 non-identical consistent acts. The second result likewise employs a novel means of deriving utilities in Savage-style systems—without appealing to von Neumann–Morgenstern lotteries. The paper discusses the idea of “idealized agent” that underlies Savage’s approach, and says that the streamlined system, which is sufficient for all the actual purposes for which the system is designed, requires a more realistic idea of an idealized agent.

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Ramsey’s groundbreaking work “Truth and Probability” (1926) established the decision theoretic approach to subjective probcapability, or, in his terminology, to degree of belief. Ramsey’s principle wregarding consider a perkid who hregarding pick in between various helpful choices, wbelow the outcome of the decision counts on unknown facts. One’s decision will be established by (i) one’s probabilistic assessment of the facts, i.e., one’s degrees of belief in the fact of assorted propositions, and (ii) one’s personal benefits that are associated with the possible outcomes of the decision. Assuming that the perchild is a rational agent—whose decisions are established by some assignment of degrees of idea to propositions and utility values to the outcomes—we must, in principle, have the ability to derive the person’s levels of idea and also utilities from the person’s decisions. Ramsey proposed a device for modeling the agent’s suggest of watch in which this deserve to be done. The goal of the job is a representation theorem, which shows that the rational agent’s decisions need to be established by the meant utility criterion.

The mechanism proposed by Savage (1954, 1972) is the first decision-theoretic device that comes after Ramsey’s, however it is radically different from it, and also it was Savage’s mechanism that put the decision-theoretic approach on the map.Footnote 1 To be certain, in the intervening years a considerable body of study has actually been produced in subjective probability, notably by de Finetti (1937a, b), and also by Koopman (1940a, b, 1941), whose functions, among many type of others, are regularly discussed by Savage. De Finetti likewise discusses problems pertained to intended energy. Yet these viewpoints were not of the decision-theoretic type: they did not aim at a merged account in which the subjective probcapacity is derivable from decision making fads. It might be worthwhile to devote a couple of pperiods to Ramsey’s proposal, for its very own sake and also additionally to put Savage’s occupational in perspective. We summarize and talk about Ramsey’s work in Appendix A.

The theory as presented in Savage (1954, 1972) has actually been recognized for its comprehensiveness and its clear and elegant structure. Some researchers have reputed it the best concept of its kind: Fishburn (1970) has pelevated it as “the a lot of brilliant axiomatic theory of utility ever before developed” and Kreps (1988) explains it as “the crowning glory of alternative theory.”

The device is figured out by (I) The formal structure, or the fundamental architecture, and (II) The axioms that the structure have to meet, or—in Savage’s terminology—the postulates. Savage’s important choice of style is to base the design on 2 independent coordinates: (i) a collection S of claims (which correspond to what in other systems is the collection possible worlds) and also (ii) a set of consequences, X, whose members recurrent the outcomes of one’s acts. The acts themselves, whose collection is denoted right here as (mathcal A), constitute the third significant component. They are interpreted as features from S right into X. The concept is simple: the consequence of one’s act relies on the state of the people. Thus, the act itself deserve to be stood for as a function from the set of states right into the set of aftermath. Thus, we have the right to use heuristic visualization of two coordinates in a two-dimensional area.

S is gave via extra structure, namely, a Boolean algebra (mathcal B) of subsets of S, whose members are called occasions (which, in one more terminology, are propositions). The agent’s subjective, or personal see is provided by the fourth component of the mechanism, which is a choice relation, (succcurlyeq ), identified over the acts. All in all, the structure is:


We shall refer to it as a Savage-kind decision version, or, for brief, decision model. Somewhat later on in his book Savage introduces another necessary element: that of constant acts. It will certainly be among the focus points of our paper and also we shall talk about it shortly. (For contrast, note that in Ramsey’s mechanism the basic component is composed of propositions and people, where the latter have the right to be taken as maximally constant sets of propositions. Tright here is no independent component of “consequences.”)

Savage’s notion of aftermath corresponds to the “goods” in vNM—the mechanism presented in von Neumann and also Morgenstern (1944). Now vNM uses gambles that are based on an objective (sigma )-additive probcapability circulation. Savage does not presuppose any probcapability yet has to derive the subjective probability within his system. The many striking attribute of that device is the elegant way of deriving—from his initially six postulates—a (finitely additive) probcapacity over the Boolean algebra of occasions. That probability is later on provided in defining the energy attribute, which asindicators utilities to the results. The meaning proceeds along the lines of vNM, yet given that the probcapability require not be (sigma )-additive, Savage cannot apply straight the vNM construction. He has to add a seventh postulate and also the derivation is somewhat associated.

We assume some familiarity with the Savage device. For the sake of completeness we include some added meanings and a list of the postulates (declared in forms identical to the originals) in Appendix B.

As far as the postulates are pertained to, Savage’s device constitutes a very effective decision concept, consisting of a decision-based concept of subjective probcapacity. Further presumptions, which are not declared as axioms, are however required: (i) in Savage’s derivation of subjective probcapability, and (ii) in his derivation of individual utility. These presumptions are rather problematic and our goal below is to display how they have the right to be removed and also how the elimination returns a much easier and also more realistic concept.

The first problematic assumption is the (sigma )-algebra assumption: In deriving the subjective probability, Savage has to assume that the Boolean algebra, (mathcal B), over which the probcapability is to be defined is a (sigma )-algebra (i.e., closed under countable unlimited unions and intersections). Savage insists however that we should not require the subjective probcapability to be (sigma )-additive.

He fully recognizes the prestige of the mathematical concept, which is based on the Kolmogorov axioms according to which (mathcal B) is a (sigma )-algebra and also the probcapacity is (sigma )-additive; yet he regards (sigma )-additivity as a sophisticated mathematical principle, whose comprehension might lie beyond that of our rational agent. Rationality require not require having actually the abilities of a professional mathematician. In this Savage adheres to de Finetti (it have to be provided that both made necessary mathematical contributions to the theory that is based on the Kolmogorov axioms). It is therefore odd that the Boolean algebra, over which the finitely additive probability is to be characterized, is required to be a (sigma )-algebra. Savage notes this oddity and justifies it on grounds of expediency, he sees no various other means of deriving the quantitative probcapacity that is required for the objective of specifying expected utilities:


It may seem strange to insist on (sigma )-algebra as opposed to finitely additive algebras even in a conmessage wright here finitely additive procedures are the central object, however countable unions perform seem to be crucial to some of the theorems of §3—for example, the terminal conclusions of Theorem 3.2 and also Part 5 of Theorem 3.3. (p. 43)


The theorems he describes are the locations where his proof counts on the (sigma )-algebra assumption. The (sigma )-algebra assumption is invoked by Savage in order to present that the satisfaction of some axioms regarding the qualitative probcapability indicates that tbelow is a distinct finitely additive probcapacity that agrees via the qualitative one. We get rid of it by showing that there is a method of specifying the finitely additive numeric probability, which does not rely on that assumption. This is the hard technical core of the paper, which occupies practically a third of it. We build for this function a new approach based upon what we call tri-partition trees.

Now this derived finitely additive probcapacity later on serves in defining the supposed utilities. Savage’s means of doing this requires that the probcapacity have to have actually a details home, which we shall contact “completeness” (Savage does not give it a name). He uses the (sigma )-algebra presumption a 2nd time in order to display that the probcapacity that he defined is indeed finish. This second usage of the (sigma )-algebra presumption have the right to be removed by showing that (i) without the (sigma )-algebra presumption, the identified probcapacity satisfies a certain weaker home “weak completeness” and (ii) weak completeness is sufficient for defining the intended utilities.

The second problematic assumption we deal with in this paper comes to continuous acts. An act f is said to be constant if for some fixed consequence (ain X), (f(x) = a), for all (xin S).Footnote 2 Let (mathfrak c_a) denote that act. Note that, in Savage’s framework, the utility-value of a repercussion depends just on the consequence, not on the state in which it is acquired. Hence, the preorder among consistent acts induces a preorder of the equivalent consequencesFootnote 3:


$$eginaligned age b ; iff _message Df ; mathfrak c_asucccurlyeq mathfrak c_b endaligned$$

wbelow a, b array over all after-effects for which (mathfrak c_a) and also (mathfrak c_b) exist. The Constant Acts Assumption (CAA) is: CAA: : For eexceptionally consequence (ain X) tright here exists a constant act (mathfrak c_a in mathcal A).

Savage does not state CAA clearly, but it is clearly implied by his conversation and it is needed in his proof of the depiction theorem. Note that if CAA holds then the above induced preorder is a complete preorder of X.

By an easy act we expect an act with a finite selection of worths. The term used by Savage (1972, p. 70) is ‘gamble’; he specifies it as an act, f, such that, for some finite collection, A, (f^-1(A)) has actually probability 1. It is easily seen that an act is a gamble iff it is indistinguishable to an easy act. ‘Gamble’ is likewise supplied in gambling situations, where one accepts or rejects bets. We shall use ‘easy act’ and ‘gamble’ interchangeably. Using the probcapability that has actually been acquired currently, the adhering to is derivable from the initially 6 postulates and CAA.

Proposition 1.1

(Simple act utility) We deserve to associate utilities via all after-effects, so that, for all basic acts the choice is identified by the acts’ supposed utilities.Footnote 4

CAA has actually but extremely counterintuitive implications, a fact that has been oboffered by a number of authors.Footnote 5 The aftermath of a person’s act depfinish, as a dominion, on the state of the world. More regularly than not, a feasible consequence in one state is impossible in another. Imagine that I have to take a trip to a adjacent city and also deserve to execute this either by plane or by train. At the last minute I opt for the airplane, however when I arrive at the airport I uncover that the trip has actually been canceled. If a and also b are respectively the states flight-as-usual and also flight-canceled, then the consequence of my act in state a is something favor ‘arrived at X by plane at time Y.’ This consequence is impossible—logically difficult, offered the legislations of physics—in state b. Yet CAA indicates that this consequence, or somepoint through the very same utility-value, deserve to be moved to state b.Footnote 6 Our result reflects that CAA deserve to be avoided at some price, which—we later shall argue—is worth paying. To state the result, let us initially define feasible consequences: A consequence a is feasible if tbelow exists some act, (fin mathcal A), such that (f^-1(a)) is not a null event.Footnote 7 It is not challenging to check out that the name is justified and that unfeasible results, while theoretically possible, are merely a pathological curiosity. Note that if we assume CAA then all after-effects are trivially feasible. Let us rearea CAA by the complying with a lot weaker assumption: 2CA: : Tright here are two non-indistinguishable consistent acts (mathfrak c_a) and (mathfrak c_b).

(Keep in mind that 2CA provides the exact same insurance claim as postulate P5; yet this is misleading: while P5 presupposes CAA, 2CA does not.) Having reinserted CAA by 2CA we have the right to prove the following:

Proposition 1.2

(Simple act utility*) We have the right to associate utilities via all feasible aftermath, so that, for all basic acts, the choice is established by the act’s meant utilities.

It is perhaps possible to extfinish this outcome to all acts whose aftermath are feasible. This will certainly call for a modified develop of P7. But our proposed modification of the system does not depfinish on tbelow being such an expansion. In our view the goal of a subjective decision concept is to handle all scenarios of having actually to choose from a finite variety of choices, including altogether a finite number of aftermath. Proposition 1.2 is therefore adequate. The question of extfinishing it to all feasible acts is intriguing because of its mathematical interest, yet this is a different issue.

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The remainder of the paper is arranged as follows. In what automatically complies with we introduce some further principles and notations that will be offered throughout the paper. Section 2 is devoted to the evaluation of the notions of idealized rational agents and also what being “more realistic” about it involves. We argue that, once brought also far, the idealization voids the very principle underlying the concept of personal probcapability and utility; the framework then becomes, in the finest situation, a piece of abstract math. Section 3 is devoted to the (sigma )-algebra presumption. It is composed of a short overwatch of Savage’s original proof adhered to by a presentation of the tri-partition trees and our proof, which is most of the area. In Sect. 3.3, we outline a construction through which, from a offered finite decision design that satisfies P1–P5, we gain a countably boundless decision design that satisfies P1–P6; this model is acquired as a straight limit of an ascfinishing sequence of finite models. In Sect. 4, we take up the problem of CAA. We argue that, as far as realistic decision concept is came to, we have to assign utilities just to basic acts. Then we suggest the proof of Proposition 1.2. To a huge degree this product has been presented in Gaifguy and Liu (2015), therefore we contend ourselves with a brief sketch.

Some terminologies, notations, and constructions Recontact that ‘(succcurlyeq )’ is used for the preference relation over the acts. (fsucccurlyeq g) claims that f is equi-or-even more preferable to g; (preccurlyeq ) is its converse. (succcurlyeq ) is a preorder, which implies that it is a reflexive and transitive relation; it is likewise complete, which means that for eexceptionally f, g either (fsucccurlyeq g) or (gsucccurlyeq f). If (fsucccurlyeq g) and also (fpreccurlyeq g) then the acts are sassist to be identical, and also this is denoted as (fequiv g). The strict preference is delisted as (fsucc g); it is defined as ( fsucccurlyeq g ext and also g ot succcurlyeq f), and its converse is denoted as (prec ). Cut-and-Paste: : If f and also g are acts and E is an occasion then we define